So Teach Us to Number Our Days

Number our days

My big news this week is that I applied for social security. I am officially old now.

We have a family site on the Internet, in which we share news and pictures of what’s up in our lives. I posted a picture of my new form and let everyone know that I had taken the plunge.

But what grabbed my attention, and what this blog is about, was the response my younger brother posted:

“wow….. I thought it would take longer for this much time to pass”

I’m going to have to ponder that one for a while. My brother gets pretty deep sometimes.

Psalm 90.12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

S/He Said No

This past weekend my husband had a birthday. However, he was out of town, so we celebrated late. I decided to create a combination cheesecake/ice cream cake for him.

I took a walk the other day, and was mulling over thoughts on the type of recipe I should use. As I made my way around the neighborhoods, I looked up and saw what I figured was a mulberry tree.

My thoughts immediately flew back to one of my husband’s childhood stories. He said he loved mulberries, and he and a buddy would climb a neighbor’s tree and stuff handsful of the juicy, sweet berries into their mouths until they were sick. This was a forbidden pleasure for two reasons: first, the neighbor who owned the tree didn’t like those boys climbing it; second, their mamas didn’t like the stains the berries made on their shirts. After he got home, his mother would take one look at him and ask, “Have you been eating mulberries again?”

“No!” was the answer every time.

(There’s a whole life lesson in that answer in how we are little children to God, how we deny our sin, how we think we can cover over sins, and how God always knows just what’s going on.)

So, when I saw that tree, I thought how cool would it be if I could get a few of those berries, cook them up, and serve over my husband’s birthday cake!

The morning I whipped up the cheese/ice cream cake, my husband went out for a bit. I quickly ducked out, grabbed a bucket, and drove to the house with the tree. Leaving the bucket in the car, I rang the doorbell, and a lady answered.

“Is that your tree in the alley behind your yard, and is it mulberry? I was wondering if I could pick some of them.”

“Oh, no,” she answered. “I have too many issues with boys trying to climb it, and it’s a liability thing.”

“I don’t want to climb it!” I laughed.

“No. I’ve got a tree guy coming to cut off some of the branches. Sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I smiled. “I take ‘no’ really well.”

“Oh, and you’re so cute, too.” She smiled back.

I laughed again. “Thanks, though.” I turned to go. “You have a nice day!”

“Thanks, you too.”

I walked back to my car and pondered this. Gee, I thought, it would have been so cool to have some mulberries for my husband for his birthday. We were planning to have his mother over, too, and she would have gotten such a kick out of it. But it was that lady’s tree, and she said no. Lord, that means You said no, too. My great idea to bless my family isn’t okay with You, huh?

So there’s a lesson. Just because I think something is a great idea, doesn’t mean God agrees with me, or that my idea was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Maybe the lady’s neighbors would be watching and then there would be arguments if she let me pick berries and they couldn’t. Or any number of other reasons I couldn’t fathom.

Or maybe God just wanted to give me an idea for this blog. 😉

cheesecake

There’s my naked cheesecake / ice cream cake. I got to tell the story to my husband and his mother. They still got a smile over it, even though we were mulberryless.

Deadheading Flowers

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My husband is the one who does pretty well all the work in the yard: weeding, mowing, picking up debris, watering. He keeps tabs on all the critters coming and going; and what needs to be done or cut back. Although I may step in and help him a tiny bit sometimes, my designated tasks are to pick any fresh produce and then do with it whatever needs to be done in the kitchen; and to deadhead the flowers.

In years past, I used to be fastidious about deadheading. Every few days I’d peer intently at our petunias or begonias or moss roses, and glean all those blooms that were past their time. Sometimes I would be ruthless, picking off those that showed even a slight bit of decay, leaving only the freshest of the new blossoms.

Any more, I’m lucky if I get out there once a week. But when I do, I like to be thorough. I bring my little bucket with me. I have forsaken gloves, since the flowers are always sticky, and my fingers work best unhindered for this undertaking.

This week, as I picked off the spent petals, pedicels, leaves, and stems, I pondered the lessons God had for me.

When I remove the old, dead stuff, it makes way for new life to begin and grow. I need to do that in my life. Do I have old habits? Television I shouldn’t be watching? Words I should stop using? Attitudes and negative thoughts that I need to prune out? If I remove my dead stuff, what might God replace it with?

I am amazed, each time I deadhead, that I can easily miss so many dead parts. I nip each one I see, going through the plant, inside to outside, up to down. Then, when I take a step to the side, or turn the pot to begin another section, I suddenly detect one or more dead heads that I missed in the previous section. How could I have missed those? They’re so obvious!

I think my sins are like that. God gives me lessons each day. I learn and grow in Him. As I do, my perspectives change, and I see things in a new light. When I look at myself from this new perspective, I discover parts of me that I need to delete, repent of, and/or steer in a different direction. How did I miss those obvious flaws before?

God is the Great and Tender Husbandman in our lives. He grafts us into His vine, He tends to us with intimate care, provides for our every need. He wants us to grow and flourish. My responsibility is to be obedient to Him, and to give willingly what He’d like to prune out.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

As I have been nominated for this by two separate and really great bloggers, I am combining my responses into one.

Thank you, Stu. https://stubaby777.wordpress.com/  You are so honest and upbeat and encouraging, I look forward to reading you. You have a gift for using what God gives you (whether perceived as positive or negative), learning from it, and giving God the glory.

Thank you, Amy. https://anewlife256599767.wordpress.com/  Yours is another I look forward to. You have an honest sincerity, a full and storied background, and a fascinating way with words. God is using you mightily.

I clicked a lot and this site is the closest I could find to the origin of the Sunshine Blogger award: https://www.colemanconcierge.com/sunshine-blogger-award/. Here are the rules as listed on that site:

Once nominated, if you choose to accept, write a post where you:

  • Thank the person who nominated you for the Sunshine Award and link back to their blog
  • Answer the questions set by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate other blogs and give them questions to answer
  • Notify your nominees through social media or commenting on their blog
  • List the “rules” and display a Sunshine Award logo in your post

 

After “stuing” over Stu’s nomination 😉, here are my answers to his questions:

  1. How do you spread rays of sunshine (hope) outside of your blog?

I have other social media sites, and I post positive stuff. In person, I try to live by my first in-depth Bible book when I became a Christian, James: I watch my tongue.

  1. What is one cliché you cannot stand?

Probably not a cliché, per se, but it’s when people end their sentences / ideas / thoughts with, “so…”

  1. What does the term God’s got this mean to you?

He wins. He’s got me and everyone else and everything else under His perfect design and control. He’s amazing that way, because He also allows us free will. How does He do it all???

  1. Out of your hardest trial or struggle, what is the most valued thing you took from that experience?

God’s got this. lol

  1. If you could go back and live in any time period, which one would you choose and why?

Firstly, I’d love to walk with Jesus in physical person. But, almost any time period would be fascinating for so many reasons.

  1. What is your favorite board game?

I just don’t do those… haven’t for a long time. Maybe I need to take some up?

  1. If you could cure one addiction to where no one could relapse, which one would it be?

Gluttony in any form is destructive; I can’t choose. I am astonished, however, at what we are eating any more, and the havoc it wreaks in our physical and mental lives.

  1. If you have a relationship with Jesus, what do you cherish the most about it?

I love how personal and intimate He is, coupled with His perfect love, wisdom, kindness, gentleness, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence…

  1. If your life were to be made into a movie, what genre would it be?

Christian fiction

  1. What made you choose the title for your blog?

I wrote a book. In my large imagination, I never imagined I would write a book. God gave the whole thing to me, and I just typed it out. (“ooooooo!” type, type “Really? Oh, okay.” Tap tap tap. “Oh, my!” clickety-click.) The character’s name is Maggie Tiggles.

  1. If you were to create your own blog award, what would the name of the award be and what would be its description?

Glory to God Blogger, for those who lift up the glory of our God; I would have to nominate pretty well everyone I read.

Amy, my testimony:

I was Ms Independence from the time I emerged from crippling adolescence until shortly after God grabbed me. I was raised in the Catholic faith until my parents left the church when I was about ten. I always believed strongly in God, and knew that “Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins.” My parents instilled in me a strong moral code. I barreled through life, certain that I was doing everything the right way. I didn’t do things that I thought were wrong/sin. If I wanted to do something that might cross the line, I would simply re-file in my mind, and make it okay. Such was the case when, still single at age 25, I wanted a baby. I just made it okay. When my son was almost two years old, I thought that I should probably start some kind of religious training so that he would understand who God was. I started watching Sunday morning preachers. Some of them told me I was a sinner. My reply: I am not! I don’t do things that I consider sin.

At that time, God moved me out of my current home (He flooded it) to the town where one of my students lived. Unbeknownst to me, his family had been praying for me ever since I became his teacher. They invited me to church the first Sunday after I moved. With my new “I need to teach my son religion” mindset, I went along.

This was a friendly church! The second Sunday I went, I was amazed that they remembered my name and my son’s name – that meant a lot to me. (I found out later that they had all been praying for me for quite a while.)

The pastor gave a sermon series on the book of James, and challenged us to read that book every night for a month. I took the challenge.

At Easter time, I somehow managed, through church and invitations, to attend about four services between Thursday and Sunday. Sunday night I had an almost audible conversation with God.

God: “Kathy, I want all of you.”

Me: “God, I know you are God. You created me and all things. You are in Heaven, and Jesus died on the cross to save me from my sins, so I can go to Heaven. I like my life the way it is. I like making my own decisions, and I like how everything has been going.”

God: “Don’t you trust me?”

Me: ~long pause~ “You’ve got me there.” ~longer pause~ “Okay, God, You are Lord of my life.”

Shortly thereafter, I was handed some severe trials. Having lived a pretty Pollyanna life, I would never have known where to turn had not God grabbed hold of me. I surely would have slipped under the surface. No, my life was not peaches and roses. I have a past, and there are so many memories that bring deep regret. But the peace and joy that God gives me as I am obedient to Him far surpass my expectations and understanding. He is my deepest delight.

 

These bloggers bring sunshine to my heart and soul, and I nominate them for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

Brenda https://becominghistapestry.com/author/becominghistapestry/

Rotimi Elijah  https://realtimelove.wordpress.com/

https://140characterchristian.com/

V Ramasamy https://ramasamy59.wordpress.com/

Julie Dibbles https://juliedibblewrites.wordpress.com/

Maria, are you accepting nominations yet? https://pilgrimsprogressrevisted.com/

David https://damarministries1991.wordpress.com/ (even though I know you’ve already been nominated, I’m seconding)

Should you choose to accept, please write on this topic:

Discuss a major change in your life. How did God bring it about? What did you do in response? What went through your mind? What was the outcome?

Birthday Blessing

This post is throwback (even though it’s not Thursday) from two years ago. I re-post because I love how God blesses us individually.

james taylor blessing

Birthday blessing!
So here’s the story:
My husband’s birthday was coming up, and he’d been sighing over the James Taylor commercials on TV, for the concert coming up on July 23rd. He really wanted to go, but the ticket prices were in the ~gasp!~ range. We listen to KOTA radio, and they were having a ‘James Taylor 5-4-3-2-1’ phone-in contest. I’d prayed about trying to win some tickets, and decided to try, leaving it in God’s hands, and not being disappointed if I didn’t get through. (After all, the only thing I can remember winning IN MY LIFE was a margarita gift basket – and if you know me, you know I gave it away.)
So yesterday afternoon I was surreptitiously on the phone, trying to win Row 2 seats to the concert. I finally got through, only to hear, “We already have a winner.” I thought, well, someone is going to really enjoy those tickets; just not us. That’s okay.
This morning, as my husband and I were chatting over coffee, I heard them announce they would take caller #9 for the last day, the grand prize of front row tickets. I grabbed the phone and started dialing. Hubby asked what I was doing. Between busy signals, redials, and Talk buttons, I told him I was calling to win tickets. The announcer answered.
“Hello, you’ve reached KOTA Radio.”
“Hi!”
“Hi. How are you?”
“Fine, thanks. How are you?”
“I’m fine. So, are you calling to say hi, or are you calling to win James Taylor tickets?”
“I’m calling to win James Taylor tickets.”
“You’re caller number 9, and the tickets are yours.”
“Wow-wow-wow-wow! That’s cool!”
“Congratulations! Let me get your name and phone number.”
I gave him the info, and told him these were for my husband’s birthday today.
“This’ll make a great birthday gift!”
“No kidding! Thanks!”
“Stop by the studio today after 10:00 to pick up your tickets.”
“Thanks!!”
So we stopped by the studio and picked up two front-row tickets to the James Taylor concert!!

In comparison to the world, this is a little thing. But in our world, it’s big. It brings right before us our great God Who delights to give His children wonderful gifts.
We still can’t believe we scored front-row tickets to James Taylor. Neither one of us ever wins anything, so we know this was definitely a God thing.
Thank you, God!

Post-note from present-day: We loved the concert. It was everything hubby had hoped for. I even got to Meet Mr Taylor, and he hugged me.

Where are Your Oars?

oars river

We all travel the River of Life.

God controls the flow, the bends, the swirls and eddies, the calm and the rushing waters. He guides each boat with wisdom and love. Some boats must endure the whitewaters for a time: baggage may be lost overboard; passengers may look up, seeking faith; lives may be lost. Some boats float along in the still waters, enjoying the view, hanging out, or stuck, as it were, for a time before being carried away or steering away. God also provides assorted kinds of boats and oars, depending on the needs of its passenger.

We all bring into our boats varying kinds and amounts of packages. Some have disorganized baggage with odds and ends leaking out; some have neatly stacked and packed boxes.

Some who go through life with messy packages strewn about may never find their oars. They travel downstream uncontrolled, hanging onto their baggage tightly, or sometimes flinging it at others. They continue adrift, hanging onto the gunnels, crying out “Oh, this is happening to me!”

Others with messy boats begin the process of tidying up. They throw overboard those items that weigh them down; they organize their things as best they know how. They may eventually find their oars.

Those with neatly stacked boxes can come into their boats with knowledge of their oars and how to use them. Some of these will use that knowledge and steer their boats accordingly. Some, even with good teaching, will make a mess of their boats and misuse their oars.

What to do with those oars?

Some who find their oars never figure out how to use them. They whack other passersby with them, or splash about aimlessly. They may think oars are for holding out to others, and that others must provide for them.

God may open the eyes of some and bring wisdom and knowledge of the various uses of oars. J-strokes, back sweep, right draw, and using the oar as a rudder all provide methods of proper steering through the disparate waters. Oars may also be used to reach out to others in their boats, to draw alongside or hold onto.

We don’t travel alone down this River of Life. We bump into others, cross paths, join together, jostle, or commune with all those God sets in our ways. Sometimes we don’t get to go where we want to go. Sometimes we are brought into new and exciting channels. Sometimes we are called to come alongside others. We must remember to be gentle and kind, to use our oars to help, guide, and steer clear.

Give some thought to your oars, and what your path will be until you cascade into the great ocean of eternity.

One of My Neighbors

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One of my neighbors is a red-breasted robin.

He visits me in the spring.

In return for worms in my yard,

I get to hear him sing.

 

One of my neighbors is a mourning dove:

Actually, there are two.

They perch atop our rail.

I enjoy hearing their coo.

 

One of my neighbors is a squirrel.

Of kin he must have dozens.

I see them dashing from tree to tree,

Bringing food from uncles to cousins.

 

One of my neighbors is a sparrow.

Her nest is in the crook of a tree.

It’s the best little spot that I’ve ever seen;

In that little hole she maybe feeds three.

 

We sit on our front swing, my husband and I,

Watching these neighbors of ours.

It brings us great pleasure as we wind down

In the early evening hours.

Chicago!

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My husband and I just returned from a five-day trip to Chicago. Travel took up two of the days, so we hustled through three jam-packed, fun-filled days in the Windy City.

First some background: This was, essentially, my first trip (previous forays through the city were unavoidable, grit-your-teeth-because-this-is-the-shortest-route dashes). I have not always lived in small towns, but I am a small-town girl at heart. I enjoy the wide-open spaces, meeting people you know at the store, and the relative safety of small numbers.

I arrived in Chicago with skewed assumptions. It’s a Big City – you know, like New York, and Los Angeles. I expected angry, bustling people elbowing their ways to jobs they hated, down crowded concrete tunnels, with exhaust spewing forth into their nostrils and traffic noise funneling into their ears. I figured we’d hear of or witness violence in one form or another, even if it was one of our group who was pushed aside or pick-pocketed. I mean, after all, you hear about murders in Chicago all the time.

My husband’s sister lives in Illinois, and she visits Chicago often. She loves it there. She especially enjoys visiting her son and his wife; still, she relishes the city itself. But, we figured she’s a big-city kinda girl.

Now I get it. I thoroughly enjoyed our Chicago trip. I never felt unsafe or dirty. There were no places that smelled of stale urine. Quite the contrary, Chicago was fresh and clean, with lush displays of trees, flowers, and greenery everywhere. The people were friendly and inviting. Any time we asked for help from any kind of worker or passer-by (ball games, Navy Pier, museums, hotel, river cruise, restaurants), they always jumped in with smiles and courteous guidance.

We attended three ball games. I should note, because it was a huge factor, that the weather was horrendously hot and muggy for all three, and all were inordinately long (4+ hours each). The stadium had ramps and areas we found with lovely breezes, but our seats were, as stadium seats are, tight and close. No one (staff or crowd) was cross or belligerent; everyone was just as friendly as everywhere else we went.

The highlight of our trip was visiting with our nephew and his wife. They took us out for dinner to an exquisite restaurant. The food was amazing, the conversation warm and cozy. We basked in the glow of their grace and charm as we chatted and caught up.

Truly, I wish our trip had lasted a few more days. I hope to return.

Get-To-Know-Me-Tag

get to know me tag

Thank you Amy Blount at A New Life (https://anewlife256599767.wordpress.com/ )  Head over to her site for some amazing reading.

Questions:

What does your name mean?  Kathy – chaste, pure

Are you scared of heights? Not so much. When I’ve been at the edge of a precipice with no guardrail, I feel like I’m going to jump or fall off, but I haven’t yet.

What is your best physical feature?  Ummm… People tell me it’s my smile.

What is your favorite music genre?  I love the old hymns. I also like bluegrass. When they’re put together it’s cool.

Are you a good cook?  I like to eat what I cook, and so do the eaters.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?  Ha. When I read this, I was eating a Zesto Collider with peanut butter cups mixed into chocolate ice cream. ~sigh~   Or one of the new DQ blizzards: Jurrasic Chomp (specify, “in chocolate ice cream”).

What’s your favorite festival?   The most amazing one I’ve attended was the balloon festival in Albuquerque, NM.

Do you have any allergies?  Lots and lots. I didn’t know about them until I was tested a few years back. Ignorance wasn’t exactly bliss, but it was depressing to find out I was allergic to everything I ate and lived in. Things are better now.

Which of your parents do you look like?  Daddy, with many shades of Mama.

Who is your favorite musician?  I am woefully behind on current music. I liked Steve Green, Don Francisco, and the Archies. I’ve been leading Sing Along at Assisted Living, and I’m gettin’ into Doris Day, Andy Williams, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Bing Crosby.

Who is or was the most influential person in your life?  Besides Jesus, my husband, but I didn’t meet him until I was almost 50.

What is your favorite time of the year?  I do love the seasons! All of them. I’m grateful that God gave us changes of new life, rest, rejuvenation, hunkering down, and swimming.

My extra question/s for my nominees:

How much time do you spend on your e-device/s?

 

I’m taking my cue on nominations from others’ posts: I nominate anyone reading this who would like to participate! I really appreciate and enjoy everybody reading each other’s blogs, and look forward to reading more about you.

Rules:

  1. Thank the Person Who Nominated You
  2. Provide a Link to their Website
  3. Answer the “Get To Know Me” Questions
  4. Nominate 10-15 Bloggers.

Pass on the Same 10 Questions (with an additional of 2 of yours, if you wish) Note: the additional 2’s are adding up, so answer and ask whatever you like.

God’s Green Goodness

weeding

I was weeding the yard with my husband the other day (yeah, we have romantic moments like that). He is more into weeding than I am. When he works alone, he likes mindless labor, during which he can mull over and solve the world’s problems. When I join him, we can chat or work together in silence as we each do our own mulling.

As I worked in the yard, I was thinking about the “weeds” we were pulling up. First of all, do we really need to do this? Aren’t some of these actually medicinal plants? like the plantain and the dandelion and the mullein – I’ve taken some herbal remedy courses, and I know these have healing properties. However, a road runs along our yard, and I hesitate to use any of these plants that have had exhaust spat on them.

Although some of the weeds grow in the middle parts of our yard, most of them grow along the edge, at the road. We call them “road warrior plants” because they grow in the fiercest conditions: car/truck/diesel exhaust, snow plow dumping grounds, doggie deposits. They create a type of barrier, I think, for the rest of the lawn, guarding the tender grass and taking the brunt of the dirtier side of floriculture life.

As we pulled, my husband talked about animals (he’s into watching wildlife, discerning their habits and learning from them). “Look at the deer and cattle when they eat in the fields,” he said. “They don’t pull their food straight up. They pull sideways. I figured there was a reason they did that, so I started pulling weeds sideways, and by golly, they come up easier, and more of the root comes with it!” So I started pulling sideways. (Yup, he’s right.)

While God says, in His Word, that He provides plants for our healing, He also discusses weeds (or “tares”) that must be pulled out and burned. God was mighty particular about how He created our world. He had reasons for every bit of it.

God told Adam, when he was cast out of the garden, that he would have to work to till for his food. Those pesky weeds would be a thorn in his side, and the sides of all who came after him as they struggled to grow food in the fields. The plowed and planted fields that were made for people food had weeds that must be got rid of and burned: that’s like God growing His people and we keep sinning, and we have to weed out and put to death the sin among us. And, how God will ultimately weed out between His Chosen unto salvation, and those who are condemned to the pit of hell (Matthew 13.40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.).

But sheep and cattle and other livestock: those are the animals God wants us to take care of, and it’s important for the tender to carefully select the fields where they eat. (Side Note: If you’ve not read A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, by Phillip Keller, please do.) But the tender does not have to till the field or pull the weeds – the animals eat those. God provides.

John 10.9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Talk about random thoughts (my Maggie Tiggles tagline)! Anyway, there’s something for you to chew on. If you pull sideways, you’ll get more nutrition.